The New Kind of Worker Every Business Needs - Marina Gorbis - Harvard Business Review

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Change how you measure performance. The value you seek from employees, and should recognize and reward, can't be measured only by focusing on their internal contributions. It also depends on their connections to and their standing in external communities that are important to your organization. At IFTF, several of our staff members run organizations of their own or contribute actively to other networks' efforts. These activities contribute to our organization's impact and increase the range of views and ideas we encounter. This is why we encourage our staff to expand and create their own external idea and knowledge networks.

Design the organization to support individual initiative, not control employees' actions. We proudly show people our unusual organizational chart (more a constellation of project networks than a linear hierarchy) because it casts IFTF as a platform on which project teams and other work structures can self-organize, tackle issues, and solve problems. "The value of self-organizing structures is that they can act quickly, responsively, and creatively from the edges," we explain in our vision statement. "The guiding concepts in this view of leadership are openness, self-election, continuous prototyping, robust platforms, and low coordination costs. Leadership skills focus on community building, consensus building, mediation, commitment, and humility."

Socialize your underused assets. Under the traditional logic of management, it would make sense to jealously guard the use of any productive assets a firm has invested in. But in reality, nearly every organization has a surplus of resources of one type or another. Some have an abundance of physical space, others have equipment and tools that are rarely used, and still others have talent that is not fully engaged. A few years ago my colleagues and I decided that we could donate our surfeit of conference space to be used on weekends and some evenings by various communities whose work we want to encourage. We now regularly open this space to meetups, hack days, science bar days, and other informal gatherings of people with similar interests (science, biology, coding, 3D printing, and such). In the process we learn from these external innovators, extend our network, and engender a lot of goodwill. Think of the resources you have in abundance and how you might "socialize" them to build your organization's social capital and enrich the flow of ideas.